Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Smiling: Huh, it Actually Works
During the Christmas holidays, everyone shares stories of how they went out of their way to touch someone's life. I love these stories.
I've never been a fan, though, of stories where a person smiles at another and it makes a dramatic difference: lightening someone's mood, helping someone make good decisions that day, inspiring someone to help another and causing a ripple effect, etc.
It's not that I don't value smiling at people. I just think people should do something a little more spectacular. Something that makes a real difference.
I had an experience, though, that changed my mind.
Back when I lived in Utah, we had a long, frigid winter. I smile to people I pass as a matter of course (another reason not to take stock in the magic of holiday-smiling), and I noticed that people would start out grumpy and seem surprised when I smiled. I figured the cold was dampening everyone's mood. I decided to make it a point of smiling, since it seemed like they needed it.
I approached this one guy in the snow who seemed particularly down. On my way past him, I gave him the brightest smile I had. As soon as I had my back turned to him, I heard him say these three words:
"I love you."
It took me four paces before it sunk in. I looked over my shoulder, but he was still walking away as if he hadn't said anything.
He wasn't on a cell phone, and there wasn't anyone else around he could have said it to. He must have meant me. The really odd part wasn't just that he said it, but the way he said it: with deep sincerity, almost with fervor, like he was speaking to a lover.
I'm still scratching my head over it, but I guess this proves the value of something as simple as a smile.